Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Amazon deleted my review of Killen's NOT ME!

***Update, 2:41 PM CST, June 14th. Please visit Killen's blog. She and I are talking with each other there about the book, Amazon, next steps...***

***Update, 3:18 PM CST, June 15th. If you tried to submit a comment here or at Killen's blog and were unsuccessful, please write to me directly (dreese dot nambe at gmail dot com). Blogger's comment interface is not working properly right now.


A few days ago, I wrote about Nicola Killen's picture book, Not Me!

I also went to the Amazon website and submitted a review. I did not make a copy of it so don't know exactly what I said.  To the best of my recollection, this is what I wrote. I titled it "Nary a mention of the stereotyped play Indian on the cover?"

The cover of this book sends me away from it.

As an American Indian mother, it is an assault on my child's heritage and identity.

As a professor in American Indian Studies, I might show the cover to my students to discuss stereotyping and anti-Indian imagery.

Playing Indian is like black face. Insensitive. Inappropriate. Racist.

As I noted on my blog that day, "J. Bennett" responded to my review. Amazon automatically sends you an email letting you know when someone has commented on your review. Because of that email, I do have J. Bennett's comment with a time stamp of June 13, 2011, 5:49:56 AM PDT.
J. BENNETT says:
I'm sure an an American Indian Mother you may feel that this book has come over insensitive. But to accuse the book of being all out racist is blatantly wrong. If you had actually bought and read this book you would see that the Indian head dress is just part of a group dress up session including children of white, black and asian origin.
Although the author may have been unintentionally insensitive to you, she has obviously tried hard to be inclusive.
When Amazon deleted my review, J. Bennett's comment went away, too.

I think that Amazon's policy is to delete reviews with obscene language, but I did not use obscene language. As far as I can tell, this is the first time they deleted one of my reviews.

Update: Tuesday, 1:54 PM CST, June 14, 2011

A few hours ago I went back to the Amazon site and resubmitted another review of Not Me! In my resubmission I did not use the word "racist."  Two other individuals have posted reviews that are also critical of the play Indian theme.  None of them have been removed by Amazon.

Update: Wednesday, June 15th, 3:20 PM CST.

Friend and colleague Sarah Park tried to submit a comment but repeatedly received an "error" message. Her comment is in response to "Calizona" on Killen's blog. Sarah posted her comment at her blog. You can read it here: Not Me!


Stephen Bridenstine said...

Looks like another case of the invisible hand of the Internet at work!

Kaethe said...

I went to Amazon to see what you had written just this morning, and wondered where your comment was.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like J. Bennett has never heard the term "racism" in his life and has no idea what it means.

Laughingrat said...

Alas, Amazon has a history of deleting pro-social-justice comments if other readers get on their hind legs about them.

Beverly Slapin said...

Hi, Debbie--

I just sent the following review to Amazon. We'll see what happens.

For children to be encouraged to play-act any ethnicity—Lakota, Chinese, Mexican, Muslim, Jewish, Hawai’ian—one of which is illustrated by NOT ME!—is distasteful and inappropriate at the very least. That “playing Indian” often occurs in the U.S. or the U.K. or anywhere else—and therefore is seen as “harmless” or “cute,” is a non sequitur. Rather, it’s a flat-out illustration of cultural hegemony—dominance and control—and it’s wrong. Children’s books like this do real damage to real Indian children, and give non-Indian children a false sense of superiority. It’s an assumption that lives in the dominant culture, and is often manifested in children’s books. In the case of NOT ME!, the author’s and publisher’s intentions may be innocent, but the damage is done.

NOT ME! is a sweet little book—except for its stereotypic description of a particular ethnicity—and that is too bad. I would rather have seen a picture book illustrating a child’s playing with a headdress that he has found somewhere, and his mother’s trading it for a baseball cap, for instance, instead.

For anyone who wants to be educated on the subject, I recommend PLAYING INDIAN by Philip Deloria. It’s a history of the American tendency to act out Indian roles, and it’s a great read.

L.E. Falcone said...

I visited Killen's blog. Wow. What an interesting discussion. Keep up the good work.